The Stressfulness Of Your Lifestyle

Evaluating Risk Factors: Stressful Lifestyle

Evaluating your likely current (and near future) state of health means taking into account the risk factors — such as the stressfulness of your lifestyle — that affect you.   Our medical diagnosis tool, The Analyst™, identifies major risk factors by asking the right questions.

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In the Emotional Symptoms section of the questionnaire, The Analyst™ will ask the following question about the stressfulness of your lifestyle:
Overall, how stressful is your lifestyle?
Possible responses:
→ Don't know
→ Not stressful / I live a slow-paced life
→ About average / moderately stressful
→ Very stressful / I lead a fast-paced life
→ Extremely stressful / I can't really cope

The Diagnostic Process

Based on your response to this question, which may indicate a low-stress lifestyle, an average-stress lifestyle or a high-stress lifestyle, The Analyst™ will use differential diagnosis to consider possibilities such as:
Bursitis

Calcification of soft tissues, especially following trauma, is common.  During stress, calcium is drawn out of the bones although the serum calcium may remain normal.

General Mineral Requirement

Calcification of soft tissues, especially following trauma, is common.  During stress, calcium is drawn out of the bones as a result of demineralization.

Low Adrenal Function / Adrenal Insufficiency

A slow-paced lifestyle would tend to contraindicate adrenal compromise.

Atherosclerosis

Circulation, the journal of the American Heart Association, reports on a study that has correlated the degree of carotid arterial atherosclerosis with exaggerated response to mental stress in men under the age of 55.  Patients whose blood pressure responses to stressful situations were the strongest were found to have significantly more advanced atherosclerosis in the carotid arteries than those whose blood pressure responses were less salient.

Although researchers are careful not to say that stress causes atherosclerosis, the evidence clearly points to cardiovascular reactivity to stress as an atherosclerotic risk factor of the same magnitude as smoking, hypertension, insulin resistance, and elevated cholesterol levels.  The hypothesis is that, "Frequent and prolonged periods of elevated blood pressure during mental stress may promote mechanical injury to the endothelial lining or cause release of hormones that can promote the build up of plaque." [Circulation Vol. 96, No. 11: pp. 3842-3848]

Moscow scientists stated in October, 2000 that they have shown atherosclerotic plaques in blood vessels are formed because of adrenaline, a hormone that releases during stress.

Coronary Disease / Heart Attack

Stress may increase magnesium excretion and the resulting temporary magnesium depletion may make the heart more sensitive to electrical abnormalities and vascular spasm that could lead to cardiac ischemia.

Elevated Cortisol Levels

People under stress produce high levels of the hormone cortisol, which wreaks havoc on the body.

Elevated Insulin Levels

One of cortisol's undesirable effects is that it contributes to insulin resistance by decreasing the rate of glucose uptake, probably by blocking the insulin receptor.  [J Clin endocrinol Metab 54 (1982): pp.131-8]

Gastric/Peptic/Duodenal Ulcers

In general the duodenum isn't as well protected with mucus as is the stomach and is more prone to ulcers.  A deficiency of pancreatic juices to neutralize the acid chyme from the stomach, or stress causing sympathetic inhibition of enzyme secretion can lead to duodenal ulcer formation.

Low DHEA Level

Stress accelerates the loss of DHEA.

Magnesium Requirement

Stress may increase magnesium excretion.

Progesterone Low or Estrogen Dominance

Stress increases cortisol production; cortisol blockades (competes for) progesterone receptors.  Additional progesterone is required to overcome this blockade.

Ulcerative Colitis

Long term stress increases the risk of Ulcerative Colitis flare-ups, according to a study by Susan Levenstein, MD, at the Nuovo Regina Margherita Hospital in Rome.  [American Journal of Gastroenterology, May 2000]

Weakened Immune System

Studies show that stress and depression affect the body physically and can weaken the immune system.  Suppressor-T cells, also known as CD8 cells, are part of the immune system.  Studies by Manuck et al in 1991 showed that psychological stressors induced cell division among CD8 cells, thereby increasing the number of CD8 cells and suppressing immune function.  However, this response was only seen in those subjects who also showed high heart rate change and catecholamine change during the stressors i.e. those people who are significantly affected by stress.

Zinc Requirement

Levels of zinc and other trace minerals were determined in 66 men before and after a five-day period of sustained physical and psychological stress.  Zinc levels decreased by 33% on average.

Bruxism (Clenching/Grinding Teeth)

Teeth-grinding is often stress-related.

Constipation

In a study of 34 women with chronic constipation, investigators led by Dr. Anton Emmanuel and colleagues at St.  Mark's Hospital in Middlesex linked emotional distress with changes in the nerve pathway that helps control gut function.  They say the findings suggest a specific path through which psychological factors directly influence the digestive system.

The researchers compared the patients, who had suffered bouts of constipation for an average of 21 years, with a group of women with no history of gastrointestinal illness.  All took standard tests that measure psychological symptoms such as anxiety and depression, self-image, social functioning and ability to form intimate relationships.

Women with chronic constipation were more likely than healthy women to report anxiety, depression and feeling less "feminine".  They also found it harder to form close relationships.  [Gut Aug 2001;49: pp.209-213]

Low Melatonin Level

Chronic stress causes the production of too much cortisol, which in turn lowers melatonin.

Night Eating Syndrome

Nighttime eaters have elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol during almost all hours of the day, suggesting that they suffer from the effects of chronic stress in their daily lives.

Periodontal Disease - Gingivitis

Research demonstrates that stress can make it more difficult for the body to fight off infection, including periodontal disease.  [Journal of Periodontology July 1999]

Problems Caused By Being Overweight

Some people respond to stress by eating.  "Stress Eaters" use food as a drug to deal with external stressors such as work, deadlines or finances.  Carbohydrates are often the craved foods because they increase levels of serotonin in the brain, which has a calming effect and helps induce sleep.  Stress Eaters often use candy, cookies, pretzels, etc.  on the job to relieve stress and are unaware of the reason behind it.  A habit of eating in response to stress may lead to obesity.

Tinnitus

Many people say their tinnitus is worse when they are tired or stressed.

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